EEOC reversed federal agency’s finding of no discrimination against employee. Complainant filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of disability (Multiple Personality Disorder “MPD” or Dissociative Identity Disorder “DID”), and in retaliation for prior EEO activity when she was charged with being absent without leave and she received a letter of reprimand because of her leave usage. Following the initial investigation, the Administrated Judge (AJ) issued a recommended decision finding Complainant had not been subjected to reprisal discrimination, but she had been subjected to disability discrimination. In its Final Agency Decision (FAD) the Agency adopted the AJ’s finding regarding the reprisal claim; however, the Agency rejected the AJ’s finding for the disability claim and held that it provided reasonable accommodations for the Complainant’s disability by adjusting her work schedule and allowing her to have time off on Fridays for therapy, and allowing any one of her alter-personalities to call in and request leave. The Agency further stated that because Complainant could not maintain consistent, dependable attendance, she could not meet the standard of a qualified person with a disability. Complainant appealed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

On appeal, the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO) noted that the record revealed that Complainant’s impairment substantially limited her ability to think and concentrate, as often times after a switch between personas, Complainant often forgets what she was doing just moments before and has no idea how she arrived at her present location. The OFO further held that Complainant was a qualified individual with a disability as she is capable of performing her job well (often receiving “excellent” evaluations) and that she was able to establish a sufficient nexus between her disability and her absences. The OFO then looked at whether the Agency was able to demonstrate that excusing such absences would pose an undue hardship, and concluded that it had not, noting that the Agency did not even discuss whether other Service Representatives could have assumed Complainant’s duties on days she was not present. Finding no legal basis to disturb the AJ’s recommended decision, the OFO adopted the AJ’s decision finding that the Agency failed in its affirmative duty to accommodate Complainant’s disability. However, the OFO also found that the Agency’s efforts to accommodate, although not sufficient to afford a reasonable accommodation, demonstrate that the Agency made a good faith effort to accommodate the Complainant, and therefore compensatory damages were not available to the Complainant.

Karen S. Schauer v. Social Security Administration, EEOC Appeal No. 01970854 (July 17, 2001)

Attorney Kirk J. Angel represents federal employees in EEO claims as well as EEOC hearings and appeals throughout the nation. You can set your 15 minute free consultation with attorney Angel directly on this website.